Art Appreciation and Care
Prevent Light Damage
All light sources, whether natural or artificial, have some of their components in the ultraviolet range. The most drastic visual effect of exposure to UV light is the dramatic fading of colours – especially those colours that contain red. Other effects include the yellowing and/or bleaching of paper fibres, sizing dyes, brighteners and fillers. Some pigments may experience the opposite effect and actually darken to black when exposed to UV light.
Do not hang your valuable artwork in direct sunlight. Even with protective UV- blocking glass, prolonged exposure to the sun’s heat can destroy your art. Choose subdued lighting effects. Use incandescent bulbs to light your work. Incandescent lights have only 4% of their rays in the damaging UV range (Fluorescent lights, on the other hand, have a high concentration of UV rays and should not be used to light your work).
The materials that make up your artwork — the paper or fabric on which the image is displayed, may become brittle. Photos may appear yellow or stained with ghostly silver deposits rising to the surface.
Once damage from UV light has occurred, it can never be reversed. That’s why it is important for you to understand what you can do to prevent this type of damage in the first place.
Hanging Your Artwork
When hanging your artwork, pay attention to the aesthetic, protective as well as safety aspects.
Hang your artwork at the eye-level of the “average” person in the room. If you are hanging the art in a room where more time is spent seated than standing, “eye-level” should be lower.
Hang smaller, more detailed pieces in small spaces such as hallways and corridors, where impact is less important than content, and the art can be enjoyed up close and personal.
Larger, “atmospheric” pieces require more room for the viewer to stand back and enjoy — hang these pieces opposite the entrance to a room or at the end of a corridor.
Pictures that are planned to be hung very high or low may require special consideration in design of the matting to prevent an optical illusion.
Paper borne art is not recommended to be hung in high humidity locations such as bathrooms. It is also not smart to hang it in areas of high airborne pollution such as kitchens, with their grease and cooking pollutants.
Unless you are striving for an eclectic “antique shop” look, groupings should look as though they belong together. Select frame styles that are compatible, and choose matting styles that will work well together and create a balanced, unified look to the group as a whole.
Another tip is to align the tops or bottoms of the various pictures in the group. Spacing is an important element in a grouping. Each picture should be placed not too far from, nor too close to its neighbour.
The most commonly recommended way to create balance in a group is to place the entire layout on the floor. This will allow you to get a sense of how the grouping will look on the wall, allow for adjustments and accurate measurements.
Frame groupings can be formal or informal. While formal grouping may look neater and tidier, informal grouping can be used to generate more interest, provide a flow from frame to frame, or just be more aesthetically pleasing.
Care should be taken to hang the piece in an area where it will not become damaged by heat, ultraviolet (UV) light rays or humidity. Keep your artwork out of direct sunlight.
Always ask your framer to use Conservation Glazing which will filter out most of the harmful UV light rays. Never hang your valuable artwork over a heat source or in an area that will be high in humidity (such as a bathroom). Heat and humidity can cause serious damage to your art.
Aesthetically, you can enhance framed pieces with individual picture lights or by using wall lights or sconces on either side of your framed piece. Illuminate your art at the lowest light level possible for enjoyment.
There are two basic lighting techniques available for your home: ambient “room” lighting or “spot” lighting. Domestic lighting is often preferable for the home, because it allows the work of art to blend in with the rest of the room. Spotlights, on the other hand, make a piece “pop” — a nice touch for really special pieces.
Spot lighting can be dramatic (using can lighting or light strips that affix right to the wall or the frame itself) or subtle (using room lamps strategically placed to give ample direct light to the piece). When using spotlights, be careful not to create shadows by using strong lights on a deep frame. Remember to keep your wiring as “invisible” as possible.
Take care to use the proper hanging hardware for your type of wall and that will bear the weight of the framed piece. Plaster walls and drywall require different types of hardware. (Artwork that falls off of the wall is not only a danger to itself, but to everyone that visits your home.)
If you are uncertain what type of hanging hardware you should be using, ask your framer for advice. Tell him or her what type of walls you will be hanging the piece on — most framers have an array of products designed for nearly any type of hanging situation.
Use two hooks to hang anything larger than 8″x10″. When determining where to put the hooks, use a carpenter’s level to ensure that the picture will hang straight. This will help distribute the picture’s weight more evenly, and your picture will hang straight without constant vigilance.
All frames (except for those with sawtooth hangers or ones hung from ceiling mouldings) should be hung with picture hooks. Hanging from a nail allows the frame to more easily shift from level and increases the danger of the frame being knocked off the wall. Ideally, frames should be hung from two hooks.
In cases of very heavy frames or when mounting frames on brick or masonry walls, the use of molly screws or masonry hangers is necessary. Hooks are available to be used with these types of hardware also.
Cleaning The Frame
Wood finish frames may be cleaned with a gentle furniture dusting product like Endust and a soft cloth. Gold or silver leafed frames should be dusted with a dry soft cloth. Metal frames may be cleaned with a glass cleaner applied to a soft cloth.
Cleaning The Glass
Glass may be cleaned with glass cleaner (ammonia free) and either cloth or paper. Plexiglas should be cleaned only with a soft cloth and Plexiglas cleaner. When you spray cleaners, be careful the rundown doesn’t stain the mat or artwork. Always apply sprays to cloth and not to glass, this helps to prevent rundown of the cleaning agent.
The inside of the frame glass should be cleaned and checked at least.